Carlos Zambrano, the token hot-head on the Chicago Cubs, came out yesterday and said that he will retire after the 2012 season. He is signed up until then and says that he has missed out on a lot being a Major League baseball player. Really? I’m pretty sure that the $91 million dollar extension can buy back some of that time. Is Zambrano bluffing or is he for real?
Zambrano was expected to anchor the Cubs rotation this season, but somehow ended up falling out of favor with management. He spent a portion of the season coming out of the bullpen, which lead to an “indefinite leave” from the team around the All-Star break after an altercation with Derrek Lee in the dugout. He went through counseling and since returning to the starting rotation, he has registered an ERA below 2.00 and a 6-0 record. He still has a fired up demeanor, but has been able to keep it in check and has been a better teammate.
Is this a pitcher who has came to terms with his problem or a player that is pitching with no pressure? He admitted to a reporter that he no longer wants to play and that’s the reasoning behind his retirement after his contract ends. He has a career record of 114-74 in nine years for the Chicago Cubs. His career started out very rocky by going 5-10 in his first two seasons, but hasn’t had a season that he hasn’t had more wins than losses since. Zambrano’s major fault is that he walks too many batters and his WHIP is always in between 1.30 and 1.50, which is well below average for an MLB pitcher. Statistically, he has had a comparable season in 2010, since his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 2:1, which is his average. He has just been very inconsistent and his numbers would be very bad if not for his recent resurgence.
The Chicago Cubs are looking to rebuild this team with a new manager in 2010. GM Jim Hendry is on the hot seat and will be looking to make moves in the off-season. Zambrano will be his #1 priority to move and his stock is on the rise with his recent play. The Cubs will have to take a discount in their return for the former All-Star, since he is owed $36 million over the final two years of his contract. The most the Cubs could get for him, at this point, would be mid-level prospects. A lot of teams will be scared off of him, since his past anger and hostility could come back. It will be interesting to see what the Cubs can get back in return and how much of his remaining salary they will have to eat.
Do I think Zambrano will retire after the 2012 season at the age of 33? I think he is currently having a hard time professionally and personally and his judgment is a bit skewed. He has never been a free agent and who knows how well he will pitch over the next two seasons. A lot factors in his decision and this isn’t the first time he has mentioned a possible early retirement. If he starts loving the game again, I can see Zambrano signing another contract, but I don’t see him being a Jamie Moyer pitcher and staying in the game near or over the age of 40.